Griner, Dupree Lead Mercury Over Japan

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: May 19, 2013

For the Phoenix Mercury, preseason games are about three things: staying healthy, fine-tuning plays and/or sets on both ends of the floor, and getting into a rhythm heading into the season.

In an 87-64 victory on Sunday afternoon against the Japan National Team, they (mostly) accomplished those goals.

For about the first six minutes of the game, their offense looked unstoppable. They were a perfect 5-5 from the floor and assisted on each of their made field goals while scoring 27 points in the quarter. Towards the end of the first half throughout the third quarter, however, the offense looked stagnant and out of rhythm. Phoenix combined for just 32 points in the second and third quarters.

The team would find a much better tempo in the fourth quarter scoring 28 points in the period en route to a 23-point win.

“I think we played well for the first few minutes,” Candice Dupree (14 points, 9 rebounds) said. “But we lost it a little bit in the second half. It’s really the first time we are playing together under the big lights. We’ll get it together this week before we play Chicago on Monday.”

Brittney Griner tallied 18 points and eight rebounds in her first preseason game with the Mercury. Griner was 6-10 from the floor and looked comfortable in the team’s offense.

“I missed a dunk,” Griner joked after the game. “But in all seriousness, I think we did well. Obviously there are a few things we need to clean up but we’ll get back at it tomorrow and fix them before the season starts.”

As Dupree mentioned above, many members of the team haven’t played together in a live game. Sure, they’ve scrimmaged in practice, but it’s different on the main floor with officials, clock stoppages, etc.

Needless to say, working out some of the kinks will be Corey Gaines’ focus heading into what is, essentially, a second training camp.

“When we stop pushing the ball it affects everything,” Corey Gaines said after the game. “We start to think too much. We play better when we just play basketball and let it flow. I think things were too controlled in the second and third quarters. But those are things we can fix in practice this week.”

Notes

- Diana Taurasi mentioned (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that the team is starting a piggy bank for missed dunks. “We’ll figure out how to keep track of that during the season,” Taurasi said. “We’ll add missed free-throws in there, too.”

- The Mercury assisted on 20 of their 32 made field goals.

- Phoenix outrebounded Japan 43-25 including a 13-6 advantage on offensive rebounds.

- The Mercury next takes on the Chicago Sky at US Airways Center on May 27 at 2pm.